Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Nao Hagiwara, PhD

Second Advisor

Shawn C.T. Jones, PhD.

Third Advisor

Kristina Hood, PhD.

Fourth Advisor

Jessica G. LaRose, PhD

Fifth Advisor

Jeffrey Green, PhD


Targeting dietary behaviors is a predominant strategy to reduce rates of obesity among African Americans, across the lifespan. Notably, dietary behaviors are shaped by social, cultural and environmental affordances. This study integrated Theory of planned behavior (TPB), identity-based motivation, and mindset theory to unearth cultural mechanisms that inform motivations to eat healthy among African American college students. This project employed a cross-sectional (Study 1) and experimental design (Study 2) to contextualize the antecedents of intentions to eat healthy among African American college students. Recruitment occurred via university-wide digital channels. Eligible participants: were 18+ years; Black/African American; were undergraduate students; and did not present eating disorder symptomology. Study participation was mutually exclusive. Measures assessed behavioral antecedents of TPB (e.g., attitudes), cultural (in)congruence, racial identity, mindsets of health, and sociodemographic variables. On average, Study 1 participants (N = 81) were 20 years of age, female, and first year students. There were no direct effects of cultural (in)congruence on healthy eating intentions. However, racial identity was a significant moderator, such that individuals with a stronger nationalist ideology reported more healthy eating intentions when healthy eating was viewed as culturally incongruent (β = 9.96, SE = 3.16, p = .002). Study 2 (N = 52) demographics mirrored those of Study 1. Results indicated a main effect of growth mindset on healthy eating intentions (β = .32, p = .02). Future studies should consider how these constructs 1) develop across the lifespan, 2) apply to other health behaviors, and 3) interact with environmental factors.


© Danyel Smith

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


Available for download on Tuesday, April 30, 2024